Filth passed off as entertainment still is filth, and money is motive behind it

By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management
April 15, 2001

On January 21, MTV was filming an episode of the 'Dude, This Sucks' show. Surely you have seen it. The taping was a live concert at Snow Summit Ski Resort, featuring the music group Shower Ranger. At one point in the show, one of the Shower Rangers dropped his pants, bent over, pointed his bare rear-end at the mostly teenage crowd and sprayed fecal matter onto fans. After learning two 13-year-old girls filed a lawsuit against the network for this episode, MTV programming president, Brian Graden, apologized and noted he had taken steps to make certain no one was every sprayed with human feces at another MTV event.

That MTV could organize a television show featuring human excrement surprises almost no one. What is shocking, however, is the lack of general public outrage about the incident.

MTV is owned by Viacom, the parent company of a number of other television properties, including CBS Television and CBS News. Viacom is in business to make money for its shareholders. Collectively, the shareholders have no concern for the filth or debauchery to which Viacom might stoop to generate those profits; they want the money. Since the days of the money changers in the Temple, humans have shown little or no respect for the boundaries of decency when there are a few shekels involved.

At one time, such acts of filth were self-policed by the community ' even if the community was an entire nation. In a different generation, people would demonstrate their outrage with their feet and their dollars. Lucy and Ricky Ricardo slept in separate beds because viewers would be offended at a public display of an intimate setting. The 'Tonight Show' once censured the British term 'WC,' because it is a reference to a Water Closet ' a bathroom. I have no reason to believe the producers of the 'Tonight Show' were any more or less personally vulgar than the producers of 'Dude, This Sucks.' But each show reflected the standard of decency of its viewers.

Every less virtuous exposure lessens our sensitivity to another entire group of behaviors. As a child, I was not allowed to watch the television show 'Maude,' presumably, because Adrienne Barbeau wore tight shirts with no bra. In retrospect, that is cute compared to today's constant MTV and BET displays of adoring nude women as the personal possessions of a generation of thug musicians. With every step we take in a new direction, our memory of our most recent steps fades a little bit. By the time MTV organizes a poop party, it makes us chuckle that Charlie Daniels had to record a censored version of 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia,' replacing SOB with 'sun of a gun.'

We are a society that demands our kids 'Just Say No' to drugs, unless it is a stimulant administered by the school system. Then the child must just say yes. We tell our children to behave in certain ways, then fill our homes with images and idols of filth that betray the message we claim to send. But as long as 'Dude, This Sucks' is on our televisions, it doesn't matter what we say. And as long as MTV can produce such rubbish with impunity, it will be on our televisions. Viacom is not our minister; it is our drug dealer. The motives of both the corner drug dealer and Viacom are the same: money. As long as we realize this, we have the power to force Viacom to change.

The good news is the bad news. This situation will eventually correct itself; self-destructive behaviors always do.

David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).

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